SMC eyes 20% discount for seniors, PWDs on use of expressways

By Filane Mikee Cervantes

January 23, 2024, 6:56 pm

<p>South Luzon Expressway <em>(Photo courtesy of SMC SLEX Inc.)</em></p>

South Luzon Expressway (Photo courtesy of SMC SLEX Inc.)

MANILA – Senior citizens and persons with disabilities (PWDs) will soon receive a 20-percent discount on the use of expressways and skyways in Metro Manila, southern Luzon, and northern Luzon, an official of the San Miguel Corp. (SMC) said on Tuesday.

SMC's infrastructure group head Rafael Yabut, who previously served as public works undersecretary, made the commitment during the House investigation into the implementation gaps regarding the laws on discounts and benefits for the elderly, PWDs, and solo parents.

Yabut said they would coordinate with the Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) and other concerned agencies on how to grant discounts on its tollways.

SMC operates the Metro Manila and Ninoy Aquino International Airport skyway system, South Luzon Expressway, Southern Tagalog Arterial Road, and Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway.

The other toll roads in Luzon are operated by Metro Pacific Corp. These are North Luzon Expressway, Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway, Cavite-Laguna Expressway, Cavite Expressway, and NLEX-SLEX Connector.

House Ways and Means Committee chair Joey Salceda, who is presiding over the inquiry, suggested that instead of deducting 20 percent from the cost of an expressway or skyway radio frequency identification (RFID) card or its top-up load, an equivalent amount would be added to the card price or additional load.

“In other words, it would be an add-on. If you buy PHP5,000, you get PHP6,000, or PHP1,000 more, which is equivalent to 20 percent. There is no loss on the part of the expressway/skyway operator,” he said.

Salceda said the vehicle on which the RFID sticker would be attached should be registered under the name of the senior citizen or PWD.

Yabut agreed to Salceda's proposal.

During the hearing, a technical working group (TWG) was created to recommend remedial legislation to improve the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons (Republic Act 7277) and Expanded Senior Citizens Act (RA 9994).

House Committee on Senior Citizens chair Rep. Rodolfo Ordanes was selected to head the TWG.

Marikina City Rep. Stella Luz Quimbo made several proposals on the subject, including applying domestic subsidies on third-party booking sites, centralizing PWD registrations, and updating Bureau of Internal Revenue forms for easier monitoring of tax deductions.

Ordanes also noted that he filed House Bill No. 9704, mandating the integration of senior citizen ID applications and other services in the eGov PH Super App, to promote senior citizens’ inclusion. (PNA)